THE Conservative government is being accused of virtue-signalling and hypocrisy at the expense of the poor with its announcement that sales of coal and wood that has not been pre-dried (so-called ‘wet wood’) are to be banned for domestic heating.
According to the Telegraph, the government has not ruled out banning the use of all solid fuels and wood-burning stoves. But its definition of ‘wet’ wood is far from clear. Since green wood does not burn, will chucking garden-dried chopped logs from branches brought down by the wind on to the burner become a crime?
It is claimed that wood-burners and coal fires are the biggest single source of small particle pollutants which have been linked to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases and cancer.
That is as maybe, but the logic of ‘banning’ them is highly suspect policywise, as Patrick Benham-Crosswell explains elsewhere in these pages today.
Without doubt rural areas will be badly hit as many homes do not have access to gas (which is also due to be phased out for heating) and already pay dearly for electricity.
Ian Gregory, an independent lobbyist for the fuel industry, said: ‘This is appalling news for the rural poor.
‘Many of them keep their homes warm with coal because they can’t afford briquettes which cost twice as much.
‘As they won’t be able to pay for briquettes they will use readily accessible wet wood which is far more polluting than coal. People will freeze in their homes and there will be no reduction in harmful emissions.’
Then the question arises of who exactly going to police this ban: an army of Local Authority inspectors employed to snoop, (travelling the countryside in petrol guzzling cars?) and paid for by our council taxes, on the moisture content coming out of the chimney? Or drones maybe?
Will you be a criminal from next year if you collect your kindling? Will the garden bonfire be next to be banned? And with coal used by such a small number of people to heat their homes, who tend to be poorer than average, is this a totally needless and spiteful policy?